e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation in menstruating women

Iron deficiency is recognized by WHO as one of the ten greatest global health risks. Because women of reproductive age lose iron through menstruation and their diets are often lacking in available iron, they are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency.

Traditionally, it has been recommended that all women of reproductive age are given daily iron supplementation in combination with folic acid if they live in areas where the prevalence of anaemia exceeds 40%. However, more recent evidence suggests that iron and folic acid supplements consumed once, twice or three times a week on non-consecutive days by all women of reproductive age are an effective, safe and more acceptable alternative to daily iron supplements.

WHO recommends intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation as a public health intervention in menstruating women living in settings where anaemia is highly prevalent, to improve their haemoglobin concentrations and iron status and reduce the risk of anaemia.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines


Systematic reviews used to develop guidelines
Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:27 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee